Thursday, June 22, 2006

US exits World Cup


... Today's post has nothing to do with running and everything to do with poorly played football.


I took a rest day today and managed to sleep in until 6:30. Of course, I woke up at 4:30 as usual and had to force myself back to sleep. Like 3 or four other citizens of this country, I was actually looking forward to watching the US-Ghana football game this morning and knew I needed to get before 7 AM to do so.

I only had time to watch the first half since I needed to be clear across town by 9:00 AM, but, as it turned out, that was enough to get a sense for where football is going in the US. Why is it that a country of 299,040,609 soles can't find 11 guys to play football at the international level. With no disrespect for the Czech Republic, Italy or Ghana (especially Ghana), I just can't understand why we get blown out of World Cup after World Cup. On any given weekend, there are probably 10,000 organized football games going on from California to Maine. Surely we can find 10 to 20 kids that would be interested in playing at this level.

I wasn't greedy. I didn't expect the US to win; however, I didn't expect them to go home in the first round. We can complain about the officials and this bad call or that missed foul, but at the end of the day, you need to put the ball at the back of the net. The best way to nullify bad officiating is to score. We seemed to have lost the recipe for scoring as soon as we stepped off the plane in Germany.

Perhaps in 2010 we should send our Women's National Team instead of the men. At least our women know how to win. Or more correctly, they refuse to loose.

With our men's team swirling around in the toilet looking for a goal, I have enjoyed watching Ghana play. The Ghana - Czech game was one of the best I've seen. You can tell that these players are having a great time; you can see it in their faces. They play for the joy of the game and are certainly exciting to watch. With no "home" team to cheer for anymore, Ghana seems like the logical choice as the next round of games starts. GO TEAM GO. Just where is Ghana anyway :)

I now return this blog back to the core topic.


Training for the Week

Sun - 7.0 miles, easy, 9:06/mi pace
Mon - 6.2 miles, easy, 9:12/mi pace
Tue - 8.3 miles, easy, 9:12/mi pace
Wed - 5.3 miles, 4x800, 7:19/mi pace
Thr - Rest Day


StumbleGuy said...
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Runner Chic said...


From just the little bit of sports that I do watch I have noticed overall that we have lost that "TEAM" edge. What I mean is that it seems to be more about showboating and steeling the spotlight rather than playing as a team... being a team.. taking it back to the basics. Sports seem more money driven now than ever.

What do I know?.... I am just a fan :-).

Hope you enjoyed your rest day. Mine is today. Golfing 9 holes at 5pm. Hope I don't melt.


Phil said...


The interesting thing about football is that our children, both girls and boys, play it seriously. My youngest daughter plays at an elite level and broke a leg playing last year which side lined her for three months. She is now working one-on-one with her coach this summer to get back in shape for next season ... she's 14. Kids take this sport seriously. But something happens to them when they get in their later teen years. They seem to loose interest.

It could be that we don't take football seriously because we view it as a child's game. Second, I think that there is also a bit xenophobia associated with our lack of interest; and third, we, in general, aren't interested in endurance sports as spectator events, unless as you said they are politically charged (i.e. the olympics) We have no interest as a culture in running, or bicycling (dispite an Lance Armstrongs dominance of the premier event in the sport).

But this is slowly changing as our culture continues to become more diverse. At least our local news paper covered the World Cup this year. Not well, but they did cover it. Many of the games in round 1 were broadcast on television. In past World Cups, only games that the US was playing were broadcast. I suspect we'll do better in 2010; we couldn't do much worse.

As for baseball: this is an insider's game. Unless you understand it a some minimum level, it looks really stupid. Just a bunch of guys standing around praying the batter will mis the ball so they won't have to do anything. Once you understand it, you'll realize that it really does have a certain inner beauty.

You need to understand more than the rules (some of which are two complicated to be explained by mere mortals). You need to understand the strategy involved.

Also, it is the only American game played without a clock. The game is played until there is a winner no matter how long it takes. Since there is no clock, you never give up on your team. Time will not run out. The side batting always has control of their own destiny. It isn't easy, but as long as your players can continue to hit the little ball safely, you can keep playing. Therefore if you are 10 runs behind in the last inning, you can, god willing, gain 11 runs and win the game. Baseball is deeply ingrained in our culture.

The only way to learn the game is to sit down with an American, grab a beer or two and watch the game. It can be addictive.


StumbleGuy said...

Glad to hear your kids play and enjoy Soccer. Perhaps this is part of the change, from a grass-roots level - and in 8 to 12 years enough of a base will have been built to have a very strong national team.

Re-reading my comment, I hope I came across as explaining the view from outside, not necessarily my opinion, although my views might be coloured by watching too many Michael Moore movies :)

I'll see if Wikipedia can help me with Baseball rules. There's not a lot of baseball to watch over here though, just cricket - a game with very strange rules and seems weighted towards producing a draw rather than a clear winner, even after days of play!


carmen said...

I'm not even sure what is going on with the World Cup. Although during our exam periods, our instructor had been giving us updates as to who was winning or losing.

When I was a kid, I played soccer with no rules but one--to get the ball at the end of the field to score. hehe That's the only extent to soccer I know.

I must say, another great week of running, Phil! Keep it up!